The new law will help deter and swiftly resolve cases of ‘fly-grazing’ – the practice of placing horses on private and public land without permission. It will bring England into line with Wales, which introduced a similar law in early 2014 and may have led to the practice growing in England where charities estimate the number of horses fly-grazed to be more than 3,000, causing misery for horses, communities and taxpayers.
The NFU worked with Julian Sturdy (MP for York Outer), whose Private Members Bill (PMB) makes small, but important amendments to the Animal Act 1971 (the law most frequently used to address fly-grazing cases). The NFU is immensely grateful to Julian and congratulate him on his hard work, perseverance and successfully securing cross-party backing through Parliament.
The Control of Horses Bill
Enables local authorities and owners and occupiers of land to deal with horses left on their land more quickly (after 4 working days as opposed to the current 14 days) and
Provides more options for dealing with unclaimed horses including private sale, gifting them to a charity or humane euthanasia.
NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “After many years of lobbying for improved powers for our members, the NFU is delighted that the Bill has completed all Parliamentary stages and will become law before the General Election on May 7.
“The new legislation will enable our farmers and landowners to remove unwanted horses from their land quickly and in a much more straightforward way while action will be less expensive to take. . Farmers can suffer significant financial losses caused by fly-grazing so they need the option of taking action quickly to reduce or prevent damage.
“The law will also make a big difference to horse welfare, as charities have been struggling to help the thousands of horses being bred indiscriminately and kept without proper care.”
Tackling the problem:
New powers for both local authorities and freeholders and occupiers of land are another tool in the box to help tackle fly-grazing
Consistent approach needed across the country to address this growing problem
Use improved powers alongside education and responsible breeding, and
Robust and proper enforcement of equine identification
NFU members who are experiencing problems with fly-grazing on their land should contact NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.